Mont-PÃ¨lerin, Switzerland: The Country Manor & The Cable Car (1st of 6 parts)
Vevey, Switzerland: The Old Town, A Great Big Fork, & Charlie Chaplin (2nd of 6 Parts)
Vevey, Switzerland: The Market & The Museum ”“ 2 Photo Essays (3rd of 6 Parts)
Lausanne, Switzerland: Up The Hills & Fondue for Two (4th of 6 parts)
Geneva, Switzerland: The Smallest Big City In Europe (5th of 6 parts)
Fondue x Four: Food in Switzerland (Last of 6 parts)
It’s almost 11 pm (local time) when my Bin and I arrive in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s pitch black and we can’t see a thing as we speed along in the Mercedes Benz hotel limo. The cold, however, is more than evident ”“ at 3°C, we feel it in our tropical bones. We’re headed for the Le Mirador Kempinski on Lake Geneva, which is a 50-minute fast drive from the Geneva International Airport.
Bleary-eyed from a 15-hour flight, we stumble into our hotel room, and immediately almost all traces of fatigue disappear as we take in the lush surroundings. We’ve been given a suite (!) that boasts a separate living room, a Jacuzzi, two TVs, a bathroom large enough to have lunch in, and my goodness, is that a porcelain sink with gold-encrusted handles I see? I dash around snapping photos and have to push my Bin off the bed that he’s promptly sunk himself into.
Only darkness greets us as we open the patio doors and peer into the night; looking down into a black abyss peppered with tiny lights on its left side, there’s nothing but cold, cold, and more cold. Brrr!
It only gets bright at about 7:30 am, but the morning holds treasures that are more than worth waiting for. I open my eyes and see …
Le Mirador Kempinski is located at the very top of a small town called Mont-PÃ¨lerin. It’s surrounded by acres of scenic vineyards, mountain pastures, and an utterly breathtaking view of the Swiss Alps. ”˜Breathtaking’ isn’t a word I use often ”“ it’s reserved for views such as this. An example of nature outdoing itself, the all-encompassing beauty of the Swiss Riviera unfolds itself before me. To the left is the city of Montreux, the ChÃ¢teau de Chillon, and the RhÃ´ne Valley. Just below is the lakeside town of Vevey, and spreading out in front of me like life-sized paintings are the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva.
It’s difficult to describe perfect idylls such as this, romantic interludes that leave even talkative me speechless. When taking in Switzerland’s stunning landscapes of ice and snow ”“ craggy peaks sprinkled with powdered sugar ”“ words like majestic, resplendent, unspoiled, and ”“ dare I say it again ”“ ‘breathtaking’ come to mind. Attempts to describe such beauty only succeed in producing bits of disjointed poetry; it’s really best to gaze at photos of these scenes and understand that words may be unnecessary, insufficient even.
Le Mirador Kempinski is not unlike a genteel country manor where old world yet sumptuous furnishings and accents combine with modern day amenities. Built in 1904, it’s stayed true to its original purpose as an oasis for wellness and calm. The Centre Medical Mirador, a center specializing in biomolecular medicine is housed here, and of course, Le Mirador Kempinski is also a luxury resort with quality restaurants under its roof.
Breakfast at Le Patio is a bountiful affair with a buffet of typical Swiss favorites: muesli, local cheeses, full-cream yogurt, charcuterie (prepared, processed pork products), fresh fruits, and the requisite eggs and café (coffee). My morning is good, guaranteed.
Wandering around the hotel, I’m awed by the library, one of those old fashioned sorts with high-backed chairs and pool tables, all I have to do is light up a cigar to feel at home here. The shelves boast of several first edition (some signed!) copies of literary classics.
Then there’s the piano bar where I find a funny statue of a man collapsed in an easy chair. It’s only one of the many statues in Le Mirador Kempinski although I don’t get around to asking just why there are so many of these “fake people” around.
To get from the top of Mont-PÃ¨lerin (where our hotel is), down to the town of Vevey (vuh-VAY), my Bin and I take the funicular (funiculaire in French), a quasi cable car that runs on a railroad. It’s a scenic five-minute walk to the funicular station. With gloved hands stuffed deep into our jacket pockets, we drink in the little town of Mont-PÃ¨lerin: little houses framed by leaf-less trees, the roof of a chapel dappled by sunlight, and of course, those gorgeous, gorgeous Swiss Alps keeping pace with our every step.
Meandering down (or up) a relatively straight path that’s 1,578 meters long (and upwards of 417 meters), the funiculaire wends through a pleasure panorama of vineyards, orchards and forests with glimpses of Lake Geneva, the Alps, and the Mittelland. It’s winter so everything is in earthy shades of browns and greys. A quiet ride punctuated only by the clump, clump of the car plodding along the rails, my Bin and I reach the small town of Vevey in about 10 minutes.